Home Wine Business Editorial Sales & Marketing Boosting Brands: How to Grow (and Retain) Sales

Boosting Brands: How to Grow (and Retain) Sales

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Communication is key if you want to attract new customers — and retain existing ones.

By Kathleen Willcox

 

First you need to sell your wine. Next you need to retain your customer. The link between these two essential mainstays of commerce — and the thing that helps spark and sustain them — is communication. 

Amid increased competition and flatlining or slumping sales for many regions and brands, the need to engage wine lovers feels more urgent than ever. 

Jennifer Warrington, WISE

“There is a lot of doom and gloom out there without a lot of solutions, because bad news sells,” says  Jennifer Warrington, who oversees WISE operations. “We need to brush up the old muscles we had pre-pandemic.” By this, she means implementing robust outreach programs, including working with gatekeepers, collaborating with like-minded wineries and businesses, and digital strategies.

In the past decade, WISE has done more than 6,000 mystery shops, and from there, Warrington and her team have garnered a number of interesting takeaways. The vast majority (76 percent) of the time, tasting room associates pitch a purchase, but they much less frequently (36 percent) present their brand’s wine club effectively. 

Traffic to tasting rooms is down, which makes keeping current wine club members happy, while also bringing in new members, more vital than ever. 

Convert One-Time Buyers into Supporters

Everyone — from new and experienced wine consumers to members of the trade — has become reliant on search engines and social media to discover and purchase new wines. Consistently selling a high-volume of wine online is tough enough, but converting a one-time buy into a regular purchase is even more challenging.

Lisa Adams Walter, Adams Walter Communications

Adams Walter Communications founder Lisa Adams Walter is a publicist, content creator and writer who says that she has personally witnessed the cyclical nature of the wine market. “The economy and the job market impact the wine market, as did the completely unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic,” she notes. “There is intense competition, neo-prohibitionist attitudes, the low- to no-alcohol recommendations and lifestyle choices to contend with. 

Bring New Wine Lovers to the Table

Long-term success for businesses requires an almost preternatural ability to go with the flow, especially as new generations enter a market. The way a business is positioned in the market is largely dependent on the way it communicates with current and would-be buyers. 

Julie Pedroncelli St. John, president of Pedroncelli Winery, who cut her teeth at her family’s winery in marketing, writing their first newsletter in 1990, and developing a broad marketing strategy for the brand in the decades since, has seen a lot of change. 

Jullie Pedroncelli St. John, Pedroncelli Vineyards

“When I first began, our newsletter was printed and mailed out four times a year,” she says. “Now everything is digital, and the messages are much shorter. It is more challenging now when you think about the hundreds of emails our customers receive every day now compared to a few mailed pieces 35 years ago.”

Being heard above the din often happens through social media and ecommerce channels, Pedroncelli says. 

“But people are still curious about every aspect of grape and wine-growing,” Pedroncelli says. “Telling ‘your’ story is key, and knowing your audience and what they want to know is key, too.”

For Pedroncelli, part of “her” story is the connection between food and wine.

“I’m a recipe hound, so I share recipes every month and people love that,” she says. “Our readers share their recipes with me too, and then I share those with the community in the next newsletter.”

Cultivating authentic connections can feel challenging in such a fractured media and sales landscape. Warrington, Adams Walter and Pedroncelli will all be speaking at the upcoming Wine Sales Symposium. Seminars are designed to streamline and strengthen the drive for growth for DTC, the online ecommerce market and on- and off-premise markets by showcasing tips and strategies from professionals and brands managing to thrive — despite everything. 

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These topics and more, designed to give attendees insights and advice on how to grow sales and profits, will be addressed at the Wine Sales Symposium May 16, 2024 in Santa Rosa, Calif. For more information about the Symposium’s session topics and speakers, go to winesalessymposium.com.

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Kathleen Willcox

Kathleen Willcox writes about wine, food and culture from her home in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. She is keenly interested in sustainability issues, and the business of making ethical drinks and food. Her work appears regularly in Wine Searcher, Wine Enthusiast, Liquor.com and many other publications. Kathleen also co-authored a book called Hudson Valley Wine: A History of Taste & Terroir, which was published in 2017. Follow her wine explorations on Instagram at @kathleenwillcox

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